First Tee Coachella Valley is excited to be starting classes again on October 12, with new coronavirus safety protocols.
“The things that young people learn and that you can help them learn are so important,” said Keenan Barber, a volunteer coach at First Tee for the past 12 years.
Barber will be there when classes begin again mid-October, but some others have decided to sit this season out due to the pandemic.
“We have more classes added to the schedule, but we actually have fewer volunteer coaches coming back, so our organization is nonprofit, the only way that we’re able to really produce a great product and run great classes is with the help of the community,” said First Tee Coachella Valley's Executive Director Teal Guion.
First Tee is hoping to add 15 to 25 more volunteer coaches.
“I’m confident that working with smaller groups, which is what we plan to do, that we can do it safely,” said Barber.
In addition to smaller class sizes, Executive Director Teal Guion said they have added new protocols like temperature checks and screening questions. Plus, all class activities will take place outside.
“We aren’t going to be touching golf balls, we aren’t going to be sharing golf clubs, everything’s going to be sanitized, the coaches are going to be wearing face coverings,” Guion said.
Barber said he will have to get used to coaching from a distance, but he still encouraged community members to consider volunteering. He said the impact is twofold.
“The relationships that you develop and the growth that you see in young people over, you know, it’s 12 or so years that I’ve been doing this, it’s very gratifying,” said Barber.
“Volunteers are the most special people in the whole wide world,” Guion said.
According to Guion, a lead instructor puts together the golf curriculum and the volunteers help facilitate the lessons. Lessons both on and off the course.
“Part of our role is to give young people some self-esteem, a sense of accomplishment, so that they feel better about themselves,” Barber said.
“It really is a magical, wonderful program where we teach life skills and core values to kids through the game of golf. The impact to the youth of the Coachella Valley is amazing and we’re just really looking forward to an amazing, fabulous fall season,” Guion said.
Typically volunteers are 18 years or older, but Guion said this year she would welcome high schoolers, especially those on golf teams. For those interested in volunteering, Guion said to visit First Tee's website.